Circling the White Elephant

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The Carousel (I)
Jardin du Luxembourg

Under its canopy, in the shade it casts,
turns a world with painted horses,
all from a land that lingers a while before it disappears.
Some, it’s true, are harnessed to a wagon,
but all have valor in their eyes.
A fierce red lion leaps among them,
and here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
Even a stag appears, straight from the forest,
except for the saddle he wears, and, buckled on it, a small boy in blue. And a boy in white rides the lion,
gripping it with small clenched hands,
while the lion flashes teeth and tongue.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
And riding past on charging horses come girls,
bright-eyed, almost too old now for this children’s play.
With the horses rising under them, they are looking
up and off to what awaits.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.

New Poems
in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

The Carousel (II)

It goes on and hurries to some end,
just circling and turning without a goal.
Flashes of red, of green, of grey whirl past,
solid shapes barely glimpsed.
Sometimes a smile comes toward us, and, like a blessing,
shines and is gone in this dizzying parade with no destination.
New Poems

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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Lately, many of us have been feeling like passengers on a carousel, circling around a snow-white elephant in the room of our battered psyches. Whether the elephant is elections, confirmation hearings, Brexit, hurricanes or earthquakes, we can’t seem to step out of the fray.

Rilke offers a way out.  Let’s give the elephants their just due, then turn our attention to the smiles, the blessings we see as we circle.  This carousel of life has no destination.  It is how we ride the horse that matters.

I see a smile today in the example of a friend who is circling her third and possible final encounter with cancer. Her honest, intentional living is a blessing to me.  I am choosing to live in that light today and invite you to also bask in it.  I extend the merits of this meditation to you and to all sentient beings.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu from Pexels

Response photo: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Pain-Compassion-Change

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One year ago I posted this:

“This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/

 

Down Here
Wispy tendrils of hazy smoke
from Canada’s forest fires
Lasso branches of not-so-evergreens
And the aberrant heat drapes
its humid blanket over this bed
We now must lie in.

Over There
Adam lies drowning
In a pool of lethal despair
While in Bahrain more mundane matters
Press on Ahmad and the butterfly spirals down
To The Boneyard of Indifference.

©Rita H Kowats August 3, 2017

 

Photo Credit: photo credit: judygva <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52450054@N04/34052621551″>Juniper Hairstreak – Callophrys gryneus, Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Sumerduck, Virginia</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Butterfly Effect III

Today, a year later, my back is left in pain from sitting all day on Thursday feeling and thinking my way through the testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Bret Kavanaugh. No doubt you have heard enough of and about it. I am led to acknowledge the pain that still bounces off the walls of our souls and offer a sliver of hope that I see emerging.

The spiritual implication of the Butterfly Effect theory is that our attitudes and actions matter to one another. They even matter to those we don’t know, whether we are aware or not. Even as I literally choke on the pain I still feel from past experiences, from the pain of Christine Blasey Ford, and the pain I feel with thousands of abuse survivors, I feel hope in the compassionate choice of Senator Jeff Flake calling for a week’s delay to investigate. Compassion. To feel with. This time, with this man, the butterfly did not spiral down to the boneyard of indifference.

We are experiencing this moment together. May we now practice leaving our left-brain analysis behind for a while to focus on this little flap of the wing:
Breathing-in compassion
Breathing-out compassion
Breathing-in understanding
Breathing-out change.

I am with you.

 

Finding Truth

 

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For Light

Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life.
In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.
That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.
That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.
When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.
When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.
When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.
When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.
As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.
And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found world.
– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

Mother Hospitality

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This morning I feasted on a video from American Public Television entitled, Borders. PBS describes it this way:

“BORDERS explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other and our cultures.” You can enjoy it here:

http://www.pbs.org/craft-in-america/tv-series/borders/

As I luxuriated in the rich, intense colors and the spiritual meaning inherent in the folk art I determined to learn more and to incorporate Mexican culture in my life more. Then I was slapped in the face by Donald Trump’s assessment of the Mexican people and I wept. This poem, Mother Hospitality, emerged as a spiritual practice to deal with my waning hope.

 

 

Caged within the borders of his fear
the xenophobe hunkers down untouched
by the diffused difference of cultures
casting bits of light on uncaged seekers outside.

Mother Hospitality tootles across the globe
picking up variegated pieces of light and love.
Her basket swings blithely on her arm in rhythm
with the hope that beats in her heart.
She watches for signs of cracking
then, quick as she can, tosses in a sliver of light
One sliver.
Enough to rattle the cage.

© rita h kowats 7-24-18

 

Photo Credit: free download from https://kathleenhalme.com/explore/cage%20clipart%20person/

Meditation on Passing Judgment

Sherlock Portrait 3-22-16

 

Sherlock sits on my lap
eyes fixed on shards of light
cast by cracks between slats in blinds
(that is how the light gets in, you know, through the cracks.)*
I have only to look in his green oval eyes
to know what he sees-
cracks of light dance there on the surface.
Sherlock’s meditation becomes mine:

If we let it, cracks of light from outside
will dance on our inside,
casting colors clear and keen
illuminating the eyes of our souls.

I see you now.

© rita h kowats 7-24-18
* Thank you, yet again, Leonard Cohen

 

Leavetaking And Homecoming

4 of July

 

Can hopeless Americans regain hope by personifying their country as the Prodigal Son?….

Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)
The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided hiView from Washington Passs property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

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The Gift of Exploration
Dove that stayed in the open, outside the dovecote,
brought back and housed again where neither night nor day poses danger—
she knows what protection is….The other doves not exposed to peril do not know this tenderness.
The heart that has been fetched back can feel most at home.
Vitality is freed through what it has renounced.
Over Nothingness the universe bends.
Ah, the ball we dared to throw fills the hands differently on its return:
it brings back the reality of its journey.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Uncollected Poems in A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

4 of July

Response

I am depressed about the behavior of my country towards its most vulnerable citizens and towards  world citizens. These juxtaposed readings, however, give me hope that it is possible to return to more compassionate behavior.  We have flown the coup and out there we are testing the limits of some of America’s cherished values: independence and freedom.  Hopefully we will learn again to be interdependent.

While my country is away from itself, my job is to “become more of the change I want to happen,” to learn and be interdependent.  My job is to continue to hold up a mirror to my country about how selfish behavior affects others.  My job is to trust that my country can and will come home to itself.  My job is to welcome and forgive when she is ready to come home.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://sonorannews.com/2017/06/29/enjoy-cool-safe-fourth-july-scottsdale/

Dove: “God Through Anne Terri With The Holy Spirit <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32289838@N04/39537614341″>Dove in Theo Sur Mer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Soul-Stretching

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Our attempts at self-protection
cause us to live
in a cramped corner of our lives.

 

Frank Ostaseski “A Friend until the End”
Lion’s Roar July 2018

 

Senescence has overtaken my back, but I am releasing pain and regaining flexibility by doing PNF stretches and swimming. Compared to five months ago, I am literally a walking miracle. I often meditate in the water, where this analogy came to me.

Stretching
A miracle for the back
Why not for the soul?

Pull push
Pull push
Breathing out ego
Breathing in light

Synced simultaneous soul-stretches
Creating space for the divine.

© Rita H Kowats 6-25-18

Hour Glass Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/hourglass-sands-of-time-woman-man-1356070/

Star Date 6-13-18

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My postage-stamp-sized floors shine,
Reflecting my clean and polished soul
(“Cleanliness is next to godliness?”)

Sitting still I bask in the shine while I can-
Before splotches of spinach and sin
Soil soul and floor yet again.

Alas, the leaf blower beneath my window
Is the bell calling me
Back to mindfulness
(I hate this infernal cacaphony of chaos)

Breathing in, I welcome peace
Breathing out, I release this edginess.
Breathing in, I rest in Presence.
Breathing out, I release anger.

Giving thanks for this day humanly lived.

© Rita H Kowat 6-13-18

 

leaf_blower_by_unhealingmedic-d4s6285

 

 

 

 

 

photo credits:  mop and bucket <a href=”http://worldartsme.com/”>WorldArtsMe</a&gt;

leaf blower https://unhealingmedic.deviantart.com/art/Leaf-Blower-289176773

star http://simpleicon.com/star-2.html

Breaching The Divide

o is for open

 

Simple-song
Marge Piercy

When we are going toward someone we say
you are just like me
your thoughts are my brothers and sisters
word matches word how easy to be together.

When we are leaving someone we say
how strange you are
we cannot communicate
we can never agree
how hard, hard and weary to be together.

We are not different nor alike
but each strange in our leather bodies
sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands
and loving is an act
that cannot outlive
the open hand
the open eye
the door in the chest standing open.

 

 

This poem drew me into meditation this morning and I have strolled through its many nuances throughout the day. We allow the other’s difference to grow a wedge between us because we don’t understand it, and we can’t control what we don’t understand. We would rather muck around in the divide than risk the outstretched hand and the open door in the chest.

In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. In observing myself, I see that it is my ego that fills in what I don’t know, rather than the self that lives in divine presence. This self is strong enough to welcome that which is strange in the other, that which reaches out with clumsy hands.

My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert it into the strange, unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who places clumsy hand in clumsy hand.

 

Photo Credit: Photopin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Michael W. May <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14609664@N06/5376777351″>o is for open</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;